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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Lawmakers want to protect charity poker rooms

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Emergency rules that allow charities to contract with private companies to hold fundraising poker games expire in July.

State Senator Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, says bills he and State Representative Tom Barrett, R-Potterville, introduced would make those rules permanent.

"These are the local Lions, school groups, veterans groups, police and fire groups," says Jones, "and they badly need this charity money."

Charities split the proceeds with the companies that operate the games. 

But the Michigan Gaming Control Commission says the activity needs to be regulated.  The Commission says the games, also known as "millionaire's parties," have been associated with illegal activity.

Jones says the biggest opponents of his bills are casinos, which view charity gambling as competition. "You know, the big casinos don't need every nickel," he says. "The little charities deserve to have some."

Jones' measure, Senate Bill 187, has been referred to the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee, of which he is vice-chair.